The Baby Peek A Boo Game: Why is it so important?

Did you know that the technical term for games such as “Peek-A-Boo”, “Ring Around The Rosie”, “Row Row Row Your Boat”, etc is people games?

It actually makes a lot of sense.

All of these games involve a baby or toddler interacting with another person or people.

These “people games” all play an essential role in a child’s development.  They are not only great for language development, but they also teach social skills.

In this article I will share with you information about “people games” and playing peek-a-boo in particular and why it is so important to incorporate them into your child’s early years.

Peek A Boo – What’s The Big Deal?

The peek a boo game is probably the oldest and most common “people game” around.

I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t know what peek a boo is.  Even people without children can tell you what this game is all about.

It’s pretty straightforward.  Usually the parent/caregiver covers his face with his hands and then says “peek a boo” while uncovering his face.  This causes the baby to laugh in anticipation that the adult will do it again, and again, and again…

This game is great for babies and children usually up to 24 months.   After that peek a boo usually turns into “hide and seek”.

Most parents and caregivers don’t realize the importance of something as simple as peek a boo.

Parents often play peek a boo with their children because its so common and they have seen someone doing this with a child at some point, or they have memories of their parents playing it with them.  And it’s wonderful to see a big smile or hear a belly laugh from your baby or toddler.

 

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Peek A Boo (and other “people games”) – 5 Skills Your Baby Will Gain

Establish Routines

People games are all about routines.

The same thing usually always happens, however you can add some variation to keep it fun and interesting.

Let’s take playing peek a boo with a baby as an example.

This usually starts out with the parent covering their face with their hands.

Alternatively, you could also hold a blanket up in front your face.

As your baby gets older they will often play peek a boo by hiding behind a piece of furniture and popping out every time the adult says “peek a boo”.

Routines are a part of our daily lives.

Some routines always stay the same while others change.  Playing people games with your child is teaching them all about routines and what can be expected from a routine.

An example of an adult routine would be getting ready for work in the morning.

This is probably pretty much the same everyday.

Develop Social Skills

When a child is engaging in a game of peek a boo they are also developing social skills.

In this case some of the social skills include turn taking and making eye contact.

As adults we must know how to take turns, whether it be taking turns in a conversation or taking turns doing a presentation at work.

It is also equally important to make eye contact with the person you are speaking with (in the Western culture – some cultures do not view eye contact the same way we do).

If an adult is always dominating a conversation and never makes eye contact with the person they are speaking with, the listener in this case will become bored and tune out.

In order to play peek a boo, the adult takes their turn by covering their face and simply saying “peek a boo”.

The child takes their turn by giggling and/or vocalizing (“more”, “again”, etc.) while looking at the adult.

This provides a signal to the adult to start the game (routine) again.

 

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Facilitate Speech & Language Development

It is important to try and use the same language over and over when playing these types of games with your child.

If your child is older (18 months +), instead of saying “peek a boo” you could try asking a question, e.g. “where am I?” while holding a blanket over your head.

When your child removes the blanket you can reply with “here I am”.  Doing this over and over again will help your child to learn these words.

For a younger child, stick with saying “peek a boo” and when you move your hands away just say “boo”.  Eventually your child may imitate you and start saying “boo” as well!

Encourage Parent Child Bonding

Babies and young children (and even older children) love getting lots of love, hugs, cuddles and kisses from their parents/caregivers.  Playing these kind of social games with your little one is a great way to strengthen your bond with your baby.

You are close together, making eye contact, and sharing laughs!

By doing this you are giving your baby/toddler your sole attention.

And this is what they need most during these precious early years.

Promote Prediction Skills

Games like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”, “Catch”, “Tickles” and of course “Peek-a-Boo” teach babies all about prediction.

In a way, this is also what a routine does.

After a few rounds of “where’s baby?” they will begin to anticipate and predict what might happen next.

This will become an important life skill as your child grows up.

 

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Teaches Object Permanence

Object permanence is the understanding that when a person or object disappears it doesn’t necessarily mean that the person or object is gone forever.

This skill usually develops between 4 and 7 months.

The reason young babies get so excited playing peek a boo is because they often do not understand the concept of object permanence.   It is also why they might get frustrated when food or a toy falls from the high chair.  In their minds it has disappeared and is gone forever.

Try playing peek a boo with toys and a blanket once your baby is closer to 6 months old.

If you cover a favorite toy with a blanket or hide it in a box, will your baby look for it?  If the answer is yes, then object permanence is developing.

In order for symbolic understanding to occur (this is a key part of language development, pretend play and creative exploration) object permanence needs to be achieved.

Beneficial For Children With Special Needs

Social skills are often the greatest area of concern for children with social communication difficulties such as autism.

People games are a great way to practice some of these skills as there is plenty of interaction, back and forth “communication”, eye contact, etc.

The R.O.C.K strategy (repeat, opportunity, cue, keep it going) is an example of how you can come up with your own ways to create a people game that is predictable and structured.

Learn more about it here!

Final Thoughts

I could go on and on and talk about all of the different people games and all of the things they can teach a young child, but you would be reading for a long time.

My point is simply that something as easy as the baby peek a boo game teaches so many skills.

So remember that while it may seem boring to you, your child is learning so much!

People games are also a great way to follow your child’s lead.

16 Comments

  1. Dave

    I loved playing peek a boo when I was a child, although I love it even more now doing with the kids as an adult. There’s something quite satisfying about making a child face light up and giggle every time you do this. 

    I must admit I’ve only ever done it for a laugh though and never even considered the education and development element to it.

    Great site and article by the way.

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thanks Dave!  I wrote this article because most adults are not aware of the true benefits of these often taken for granted activities people do with young children.  My goal was to show parents and caregivers how babies truly learn!

      Reply
  2. Kylie

    I can’t agree more Tanya! I love Peek A Boo Game. I did it with my kids started from 2 months old. However, I just found out a few new things with this game such as trying to predict and social skills.

    Previously, I did this with the aim of:
    1. Him laughing
    2. He imitates me and makes a “Boo” voice.

    By the way , talking about routine, can I make the routine like 2 times a day?

    Thank you very much for the article you wrote in this website because I can learn more about parenting and my child development.

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thanks for your comment Kylie.  You can use routines as often as you would like throughout the day!  Just keep it fun and try not to become a “teacher”.

      Reply
  3. uechchi

    Why is play significant for a kid? As a medical caretaker understudy I considered kid brain research. Play is completely essential for the advancement, and indispensable. The mind, and particularly for little kids, is the most significant organ that develops in a colossal speed. As guardians we have a duty to giving adoration, mindful, give legitimate nourishment, and off kilter additionally animate the youngster to improvement through play and connection.  Games like peek a boo, as you mentioned are wonderful for developing the brain!

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Yes, you are right!  The brain develops extremely rapidly and is like a sponge in a child’s first three years of life.  So many “silly” baby and toddler activities are often taken for granted and many see them as a way to pass the time with a young child.  But what seems silly to an adult can be packed with important brain building opportunities for a baby.

      Reply
  4. SJB

    OMG! Did I ever play ”peek-a-boo” with my children! Although it made me feel a little silly, thanks to this post, I totally understand that it was essential and I didn’t even know it! And….hide and seek! I think that I played that game with my children until they were like 13! It was as much fun for me as it was for them! Thank you for the awesome memories!

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      You aren’t alone.  Most people think peek a boo is just a fun game to play with babies and young kids!  But as you can now see there is so much more too it!

      Reply
  5. Chelsie

    Great post! I run developmental play groups and this is what we are all about!

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thanks Chelsie! Glad you enjoyed it. Simple social games such as peek-a-boo or so wonderful for a baby’s development!

      Reply
  6. Liz

    My kids love peek a boo! I didn’t know how developmentally important it was until I read this page though! 

    I took the time to browse around your site after reading about how something as simple as peek-a-boo can be so beneficial to a child’s development. 

    I must say, you have a very well planned out website. The graphics are great, the information is well put together, accurate and precise.  Altogether this website was done fantastically!  

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thanks so much for your kind words Liz.  I’m glad that you like the website.  

      My goal with articles such as the baby peekaboo one is to show parents that babies can learn from just about anything.   You don’t need to invest in expensive learning supplies to give your little one a learning advantage.  

      Reply
  7. Verne0710

    I’m quite impressed with your site. It has a ton of helpful information and is very easy to read and navigate. Child development is also a subject that I feel very strongly about, and a lot of the methods that you have posted about are things that I’ve made sure to do with my own children. 

    I love how you explain the many benefits behind some of the little things we do with our kids, like playing peek-a-boo with a baby.  Myself, along with most parents play the peek-a-boo game because little ones find it so entertaining.  I’m going to start paying more attention to the things I am doing with my kids and what they might learn from a simple activity.

    I signed up for your e-book and am looking forward to reading through it. Hopefully, I can gain insight on how to improve how I’m raising my kids. Definitely keeping your site in my favorites.

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thanks for taking a look around the site!  I’m happy that you enjoy the information I am sharing.

      Learning opportunities are all around for young children.  They do not always have to be intentionally created through structured activities.  And kids learn best when they are interested in something and don’t realize that they are being “taught”.

      I hope that you enjoyed the e-book!

      Reply
  8. Hailey

    Such a great informative post!

    I think that all these little games help with a child’s development. Some people may not think that these games are beneficial in any way but after reading your article I think they would change their minds.

    My son has special needs and I use the game Simon says a lot to teach him different things such as body parts Color numbers and alphabet.

    Thanks again for the post!
    Regards
    Hailey

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thanks Hailey,

      Like you said, these simple songs/games are wonderful for teaching in an implicit way.   I also used Simon Says to teach body parts and colors in my speech therapy sessions.

      Peek a boo was also a go to of mine for children with special needs that involved difficulty with social skills such as turn taking and eye contact.

      Reply

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